Last week, I attended the 2014 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference in Washington D.C. This one day conference was put on the by the U.S. House of Representatives and was held at the U.S. Capitol.
The conference was quite gratifying for me. A good part of the presentation related to projects my company, Xcential, and I are working on. This included Ralph Seep’s talk on the new USML format for the U.S. Code and the Phase 2 Codification System, Sandy Strokof’s mention of Legislative Lookup and Linking and the new Amendment Impact Program (which was demonstrated by Harlan Yu (@harlanyu)), Daniel Bennett’s (@cititzencontact) talk on the legal citation technical committee, and finally Monica Palmirani (@MonicaPalmirani) and Fabio Vitali, from the University of Bologna, talked about Akoma Ntoso and Legal Document ML. We’ve made an awful lot of progress over the past few years.
Other updates included:
- Andrew Weber (@atweber) gave an update on the progress being made by the Congress.gov website over at the Library of Congress. While still in beta, this site has now essentially replaced the older Thomas site.
- There was an update on modernization plans over at the Government Printing Office including increased reliance on XML technologies. While it is good to see the improvements planned, their plans didn’t seem to be well integrated with all the other initiatives underway. Perhaps this will be clearer when more details are revealed.
- Kirsten Gullickson (@GullicksonK) gave an update on the developments over at the Office of the Clerk of the House.
One very interesting talk was the winner of the Library of Congress Data Challenge, Jim Mangiafico (@mangiafico), describing his work building a transform from the existing Bill XML into Akoma Ntoso.
After lunch, there were a series of flash talks on various topics:
- Eric Mill (@konklone) gave a talk on using GitHub.
- Harlan Yu repeated his excellent talk on positive law codification
- There were various other updates on external initiatives and tools including Daniel Schuman’s (@danielschuman) update on the Congressional Data Coalition, Jim Harper’s (@Jim_Harper) Deep Bills project, Seamus Kraft’s (@seamuskraft) Madison 2.0, and Ted Henderson’s (@TedAtCapbells) Capitol Bells. There sure are a lot of interesting projects now underway.
Later in the afternoon, Ali Ahmad (@aliahmad) chaired a panel discussion/update on the DATA Act and its implications on the legislative Branch. Perhaps it’s still to really understand what the effect of the DATA act will be – it looks like it is going to have a slow rollout over the next few years.
Anne Washington chaired a panel discussion on bringing the benefits of paper retrieval to electronic records. This discussion centered around a familiar theme, making data useful to someone who is searching for it – so it can be found, and when it is found, used.
All in all, it was a very useful day spent at the nation’s Capitol.
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